Tag Archive for 'Project for Awesome'

Seven Years of Awesome

Seven years ago I packed my bags and flew to my parents’ homeland of Bangladesh. I was just some guy with a camera and a laptop with a lofty goal of “making a difference”. A lot of people do a whole lot of nothing that way – sometimes doing more harm than good. I’m very lucky that things didn’t turn out that way. This is thanks, in no small part, to the YouTube Community and The Project for Awesome.

Over the past seven years, collaborating with both secular charities (like Save the Children), faith based groups (like the Holy Cross Congregation), and local NGOs, I’ve been able to do more than I could ever have dreamed of. This includes responding to multiple natural disasters and providing emergency disaster relief, reconstruction a school damaged by a cyclone, providing a community with clean water, helping a Buddhist orphanage and school, and building a Catholic school (with some help from a Rabbi).

I’ve also been lucky enough to win The Project for Awesome once in 2012. With that money I’ve helped to build a school in a small community that had to wall itself off from because of religious differences. I hoped to overcome those differences by being a Muslim that crossed the wall to build this Christian community a Catholic school. Along the way, I also helped create a slum school with a local NGO. That slum school will need funding again in 2015. That’s part of the reason I want to win the Project for Awesome again this year.

If you’d like, you have about a dozen hours left to vote here. No login or account required. Just click the vote button 🙂

Last Update Before P4A

The Project for Awesome (aka P4A) is an annual charity event done on YouTube. It’s organized by Hank and John Green. This was the video – quickly done with me and Jory – before that event. It was unscripted and basically showing another side to this school construction.

Just a reminder that The Uncultured Project has been nominated for a Webby Award. Please help it become the People’s Choice by voting for it here.

We Speak For Ourselves

When it comes to international aid and development, we are all biased. It doesn’t matter if you’re a donor reading pamphlets, a celebrity or YouTuber endorsing your favorite NGO, a journalist interviewing villagers, an academic outside of the ivory tower, an experienced aid professional talking about “good aid”, or even a free agent trying to be a bridge-maker.

There is nothing nefarious about this fact. We as human beings, while capable of untold capacities for empathy, will never have a complete verstehen and fully imagine the complexity of others. This is important because the arbiters of what is and is not “good aid” and what does and does not “harm the poor” must be the ones whom international aid is meant to serve.

This latest video, which among other things shows a project I did in collaboration with Save the Children, is my attempt to bring the poor one step closer to being able to speak for themselves. This is by no means the pinnacle of the kind of global voice I think the poorest of the poor should have. Rather, I see this as merely Step 4 out of a 5 Step Program.

This video also connects with a lot of things I’ve talked about on this blog – from mistrust of NGOs in Bangladesh, to raising overhead separately, to Islamic POVs on aid (which partly influences why many Bangladeshis talk about overhead), to the need for the poor to be more digitally and globally connected, to explaining the significance of the woman (near the end of the video) blessing the donors.

If you’re new to my work then I should point out this isn’t about raising as much money as possible. If you want to donate, I strongly suggest you consider donating to Save the Children instead of me. My goal has always been just to change the conversation on global poverty – that means less guilt, pushing for diversity, and letting the poor speak for themselves.

Project for Awesome Preview

Are you ready for the 17th of December?

Thank You YouTube

For this year’s Project for Awesome, I decided to pull out all the stops and show you guys a lot of the stuff I’ve been doing but haven’t had the time to put into individual episodes or videos. I keep saying that this project is less about me and more about the community behind it – hopefully this latest video helps convey that.

And, yeah, this video does use copyrighted music by Coldplay (part of EMI Records). I did enough research into YouTube’s agreement with EMI Records and am fairly certain this video won’t be taken down. But, of course, I also had to forfeit any chance of earning any ad revenue and (as I later found out) any reasonable chance of having this video being featured or promoted. EMI can also reserve the right to take down this video, region lock it, or place ads on it where they can earn all the ad revenue from it (just like the Counting Crows & Universal Music have region locked my Cyclone Sidr video and take all the ad revenue from it).

But that’s cool. This was a kind of video I wanted to make for ages. I just never could find the right match of visuals and music until I heard “Life in Technicolor ii” by Coldplay.

The Importance of YouTube

ny-times-cover

Last Thursday was a good day for the YouTube Community. One YouTube’s biggest personalities (Michael Buckley of the What the Buck Show) was on the frontpage of the NY Times. The article was about something a lot of people within the YouTube community already knew – how it’s possible to make money (sometimes a lot of it) through YouTube.

I posted this scan of the frontpage of that issue because I wanted to show you what the main story on the frontpage was. You might not think that a story about the plight and suffering in the people in the third world (the frontpage story) has anything to do with YouTube. But for me – and what I’ve devoted myself to these past two years of my life – they couldn’t be any more related.

We live in incredibly trying financial times. Forget the boardroom table, all of us are feeling this hardship at the dinner table. And money which could have been used to provide mosquito nets to every man, woman, and child in a malaria hot zone, or education to every child in the developing world, or clean water to every human being on the planet – is instead being spent on bailouts for Wall Street.

As it gets harder for us to p4a4by3convince politicians the importance of those beyond our borders – we’ll need new ways to continue the fight against global poverty. And YouTube is absolutely critical to that. This year’s Project for Awesome is a great example of that. We can keep the conversation going about global poverty well into a future where the mainstream media debates whether the day’s main story should be about a new bailout or Britney’s new single.

And, as my parents and I look into the family financial situation to see how many months (not years) this project can continue, this NY Times article is a poignant reminder of the fact that it is theoretically possible to make this project sustainable. All that we’ve been able to do together – all the lives this project has been able to touch – cost about 1/10th of what Michael Buckley earns through YouTube’s partnership program.

I’m not saying I will ever (or even deserve to be) as popular as Buck. Whether or not I can continue to sustain what I’m doing, I just hope that one of the greatest technologies of modern history can be used to fight one of the biggest plights that humanity faces.

Even More Honors for Uncultured Project

The Project for Awesome Video I made featuring Save the Children is in the Nonprofits & Activism section of YouTube. Right now, in that category it currently is:

  • The 76th Most Viewed of the Day
  • The 22nd Most Discussed of the Day
  • The 21st Most Favorite of the Day
  • The 10th Highest Rated of the Day

Wow.